ROME — If people want to assist Iraqi migrants and refugees, they should look for ways to help them return to their homeland, says the new Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican, Amal Mussa Hussain Al-Rubaye.
“Neither the government nor the Iraqi population at large want Christians to leave, because we know they are an essential part of our society,” said Ambassador Al-Rubaye during an informal Q&A session at an event in Rome on migration Wednesday.
“Thank you for caring for our migrants, but from this place, I want to say to the world: if you want to help our migrants, do so by helping us rebuild Iraq,” she said.
While many Iraqis now living in the diaspora would like to return home, many no longer have homes to come back to, she said, and reconstruction is urgently needed.
Al-Rubaye said that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in Turkey, Kurdistan, or Jordan would like to return, particularly to the Nineveh Plains.
The Islamic State terrorists, she said, sought to “kill everyone who thought differently,” and thus Christians had “no choice but to flee.”
“Christians who’ve fled are now ready to come back, but the areas where they live are completely destroyed,” she said. “And it takes time to rebuild houses.”
Eager to assist persecuted Christians, some countries have begun to realize that encouraging mass migration is not a help but a hindrance, since most really want to return home.
One sterling example of this is the Hungarian government, which has set up a department dedicated to assisting persecuted Christians by rebuilding their homelands.
In 2016, the government of Viktor Orbán established a Deputy State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, making it the only nation in the world with a department of this nature.
The secretariat has already sent millions of euros in aid to rebuild homes, churches, and schools so that Christians can stay in the Middle East, and has granted dozens of scholarships to Christian students in Africa and the Middle East who suffered persecution from militant Islamic terror groups.
Last December, Hungary and the United States announced an alliance to assist Christians in the Middle East, helping them “recover from genocide and persecution by the Islamic State”.
The two governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “to increase coordination to help communities in the Middle East recover from genocide and persecution by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”
The agreement between the two nations follows Hungary’s stated strategy of taking assistance “to the troubled spots where it’s needed, instead of bringing the trouble and instability to Europe,” read a statement from the Hungarian government.
In its own separate statement, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said that the agreement with Hungary is “part of USAID’s continuing effort to expand its partnerships to help endangered, displaced, and persecuted religious and ethnic minorities return home and restore their communities across the Middle East, particularly in parts of Northern Iraq liberated from the tyranny of ISIS.”